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July 2011 Archive

WHY THREE FORUMS? Well, this is YOUR blacksmithing forum to use for whatever you wish within the rules stated above. It is different than the Slack-Tub Pub because the messages are permanently posted and archived.
This page is NOT a chat - it is a "message board"

Our chat, the (Slack-Tub Pub), is immediate but the record of it is temporary. DO NOT post permanent messages there. We refresh the "log" every 24 hours now and your message will be lost.

The Guru's Den is where I and several others try to answer ALL your blacksmithing and metalworking questions to us.

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J. Dempsey  <webmaster> Rev. 7/98, 3/99, 5/2k, 6/2k, Friday, 04/06/01 16:43:25 GMT

Roswell and Space Aliens: There has been so much fiction written about this from so many sources that I doubt that the truth will every be known.

I believe that IF there were aliens traveling in our area they would have contacted us OR they may have "first contact" rules such as in Star Trek and we don't meet the requirements. Another, more probable possibility is that IF there are aliens they are SO alien that they do not have a frame of reference to communicate with us.

Issac Asimov proved logically that everywhere in the Universe all life will be based on the same things we are and have DNA based on the same chemistry as ours. This would mean that low level life forms such as viruses from different worlds could effect life elsewhere. A very dangerous situation and good reason not to interact with aliens.

As to other differences and similarities between life forms on different worlds Asimov also postulated that if we look at the most numerous lifeforms on Earth the probability of two legged apes becoming the dominant species is low. Based on the numbers it should be a 4 or 6 legged creature. SO, can you imagine how one of these creatures from another world would look at the way WE treat 4 and 6 legged creatures. . .

- guru - Friday, 07/01/11 17:23:40 EDT

Anytime we look at extremely ancient artifacts and say that that could only have been done with the help of, or by, alien technology we are doing a big discredit to how smart our HUMAN ancestors were.
JimG - Friday, 07/01/11 18:43:28 EDT

Smart AND Hard Working:
They also had artistic skills, a sense of proportion, symmetry and other things that we do not think of "primitive" people having. The stone age "caveman" we think of as a primitive was no different than us. The American Indians were a stone age people. . .

The 3,000 ? year old frozen mummies found in Iceland had beautifully decorated leather clothes with bead work and fancy stitching. The cut of the clothes had distinct style and clean lines. It was not rag tag hide clothing. All done with stone tools. . .

- guru - Friday, 07/01/11 20:30:48 EDT

New Mexico; Taos Pueblo; Roswell: I'm a Missouri corncracker, but I chose to move to New Mexico in 1968. I visited New Mexico as a lad in 1954, and drove by the Valles Caldera. I was so moved by its beauty, that I knew that NM was for me. To my knowledge, I am not from a distant nebula. I went to Roswell in 2006 as an invited "ranch blacksmith" for the The Living West Exhibition of the Roswell Museum and Art Center. I was invited back the following year as a, a consultant! I was identifying artifacts, guessing provenance,and dating material that the museum acquired from the Rogers and Mary Aston Collection. The collection was mostly a broad sweep of Western Americana. I have had more than a nodding acquaintance with Indian artifacts. I knew something of Western arms, and less of Colonial arms and armour. The city of Roswell has fun with the supposed spaceship landing. Everywhere, you see images of the triangular headed aliens. This year, the attempt to have the yearly alien parade fell flat for lack of coherent organization. Too bad.

I have been to Taos Pueblo on many occasions, because of all the relatives I inherited by way of marriage. The ceremonies are unbelievably beautiful. The Indian mindset is on another tangent compared to Anglo thinking. My wife, Juanita, and I went to Ireland a few years back and visited The Giant's Causeway in the north. The causeway consists of multitudinous vertical, basaltic, hexagonal-section pillars coming above ground and out into the water. Some are the right size to sit on, some larger, some smaller. The Irish legend says that a Giant, Finn McCool, wanted to visit his giant girlfriend on a Scottish Island, so he built the causeway. Juanita kinda' went along with that thinking. She said that in the Indian way of thinking, there were giants in the long ago days when portions of the earth were soft. She talked about the Inca stonework where huge rocks were fit together perfectly without mortar. Juanita said that their teaching was that the giants molded the rocks like clay, fit them together, and they later hardened.

We've had a horrible forest fire about 30 miles from Santa Fe which has burned over 100,000 acres. As of this writing it is about 4% contained. It was 3/4 of a mile from Los Alamos, "the Atomic City." Thousands of people were evacuated from Los Alamos beginning a few days ago. This order is still in effect. Unfortunately, the fire destroyed the watershed and some sacred sites of Santa Clara Indian Pueblo. It burned 10,000 acres of the Valles Caldera. The caldera (Spanish cauldron) is the largest extinct volcanic depression in the continental U.S. It goes on for miles. To me, breathtaking.

Frank Turley - Friday, 07/01/11 21:15:00 EDT

Fires, Natural Disasters:
While these things are always terrible to see or experience, nature heals itself.

Volcanoes erupt, Earthquakes and floods change the shape of the landscape, fire destroys forests and plant life, storms change coastlines. It always has been and always will be.

The problem is when it affects us mere mortals with our limited lifespans.
- guru - Saturday, 07/02/11 01:35:18 EDT

Los Alamos: Frank, I have a friend who lives in White Rock, and is a physicist at Los Alamos. His coffee cup says,"SPEED LIMIT-186,000 MPS. It's not just a good idea, it's the LAW!"
- Loren T - Saturday, 07/02/11 02:12:37 EDT

White Rock: I have shod many a horse in White Rock in the "olden days."

Recently, I demoed forge welding and ornamental work for the combined Los Alamos and Albuquerque branches of the American Society for Metals International.
Frank Turley - Saturday, 07/02/11 11:04:47 EDT

Wild Fires and Recovery: I had a fascinating conversation with the acting Superintendent at Big Thicket National Park and Preserve in Beaumont, TX. She had just come from further west where the dirt-to-plant ratio is much higher. BITH is one of those locations where a number of ecosystems collide, Southern swamp, Eastern woodlands, Southwestern desert, Midwest prairie... She mentioned that the time for forestation recovery from wildfire back east where I'm from is about seven years! I can attest to that; you can't see much, if any, damage from "when the swamp caught fire in the drought" about 15 years; and some of the fields where we filmed our educational film of the Battle of Maldon on its 1,000th anniversary (1991) have not only turned to forest, but have even been selectively timbered.

Further out west, she explained, the recovery time gets a lot longer as you go higher and drier. Some areas in the Rockies and the desert southwest can take 90 years (!) to recover. It will recover, but once again, we should be very careful with what we have, lest it be lost for several generations.

At least, this time, it wasn't the NPS trying to manage a controlled fire that caused the problem.

Big Thicket
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Saturday, 07/02/11 11:34:58 EDT

The NPS never will live that down, will they, Bruce?
- Rich - Saturday, 07/02/11 15:21:30 EDT

Wildfires: Only about 3% of Arizona is private property, and the remaining 97% is under control of the government in one shape or another. They used to have controlled burns to rid the forests of unwanted brush, but they lost control of too many. So about 20 years ago they ordered prescribed burns, so that even if it is out of control, it is still prescribed.
- Loren T - Sunday, 07/03/11 00:16:43 EDT

Aliens: I read a book a few years ago called "The View From The Center Of The Universe". The authors pointed out numerous details that suggest that humans are uniquely suited for the known universe. This implies a similarity of size, shape, and composition among all intelligent life in the universe, regardless of origin. However, the book does point out that there may be more than one universe and one should not extrapolate laws of this universe to another.
quenchcrack - Sunday, 07/03/11 06:55:35 EDT

Fires not always a natural disaster: I called the Las Conchas fire near Los Alamos "horrible," because I was thinking of all the man made fires caused by the misuse of matches, lighters, cigarettes, campfires, fireworks, vehicles (exhaust), welders, angle grinders, etc. The Las Conchas cause is still not known. New Mexico Governer, Susana Martinez, says that this year, there were 791 fires and more than 640,000 acres burned, much more than last year. She does not have the authority to ban fireworks statewide because of the way our state laws are written. However, counties and municipalities can impose bans, and some have done so. The problem is enforcement. Fireworks are for sale, and you have all these people who treat fireworks as a ritual.
Frank Turley - Sunday, 07/03/11 07:51:28 EDT

Cause of the fire: An interagency team led by New Mexico state foresters has determined that the Las Conchas Fire was caused by a fallen tree contacting power lines and igniting. So now you've got Mother Nature, the "deadfall," contacting man-made, the power lines.
Frank Turley - Monday, 07/04/11 06:16:10 EDT

Man vs. Nature: Nature pretty much takes care of its self. Its when man and nature clash that is the problem. Nature takes wildfires in stride and life has even evolved to take advantage of it to a degree. Some trees do not seed unless there is a fire, charcoal has been found to be beneficial to soils, meadows and some grassland habitat need fire occasionally to keep them clear. . . And even that 90 years for arid high country to recuperate is nothing on the time line of natural history. Floods scour out stream beds that have become shallow and clogged with sand or plant life. . .It is when nature clashes with man and his creations that there is a problem. A forest fire is like one hand clapping unless there is a man made structure in the forest OR the trees have economic value to man. Floods overflowing rivers deposit nutrient rich soil in the flood plains. . . The fact that mankind likes to settle and farm there is his weakness that buts him in conflict with nature.

Problems become worse when man thinks he can tame nature such as preventing floods on large rivers. When flood walls and dikes are put up they only move the flooding elsewhere and make is worse for someone else. Dams for "flood control" permanently flood an area rather than protect it and unless the empoundment is kept empty it is not a buffer to prevent down stream flooding. . . (the big government lies used to build dams when they want to).

A good example of man vs. nature was the failure of flood walls to protect several Japanese villages during the recent disaster there. The was EXACTLY what the multimillion dollar walls were supposed to prevent.

A few years ago there was flooding in Richmond VA. The majority of the problem was that flood walls along the James River held water IN on the city side where the flood waters came from rather than letting it flow out into the river harmlessly. . . This scenario has played itself out in numerous places . .

All Mankind can do is try to do a better job of adapting to local conditions. But it is impossible to beat the forces of nature.

Besides the man made causes of wildfires listed by Frank some others include; Overheated brakes or bearings on rail cars. Tire/wheel fires on trucks. Spontaneous combustion of human products (tires, trash, agricultural waste). Floating embers from any kind of supposedly "controlled" fire.

All these sources of fire and one of mankind's supposed breakthroughs was learning to make fire. . . And despite the problem of children playing with matches we still have people write in and want to know how to start a coal fire. .

Happy 4th of July and don't start any unplanned fires are a result of your celebrations!
Anvil shoots - blacksmith fireworks
- guru - Monday, 07/04/11 08:34:04 EDT

I just spent a week camping next to a lady who was evacuated from Los Alamos. A bit of a nerve racking time; but she explained at how well the people were finally treated after the "controlled burn" . She was not expecting nearly so nice a settlement if it was a wild fire...

The previous campout I had the only "fire" on site and my forge had to be a propane one and my campsite was selected for me by the County Fire Marshal.

This campout we had 3 allowed fires: My forges (coal and charcoal), the Medieval Kitchen next door to me and 1 bonfire location with a LARGE cleared to dirt space around it.

No problems save that driving 6 hours home with no airconditioning in the heat of the day was rough.

Thomas P - Tuesday, 07/05/11 18:13:40 EDT

Demo Fires:
I had one venue call me several years in a row about doing a demo but they were very concerned about fire. They had several fires (arson) that had burned down their outdoor theater (more than once) and were very paranoid about fire on site. The fire prevention discussions were long and they wanted ME to provide extinguishers, water containers and assure a "fire watch" after hours AND insurance. I decided they didn't want a blacksmithing demo very much.
- guru - Tuesday, 07/05/11 19:15:04 EDT

copper finish: I want to use copper high lites on leaves. Anyone, please advise
- Gene - Wednesday, 07/06/11 20:37:24 EDT

Gene, the standard method starts with a brass, bronze or copper wire brush. You clean scale off the hot iron with a steel wire brush then quickly (while it is still at a black heat) brush the surface with the brass brush. Iron has an affinity for copper and the heat will help it to plate the steel. Clear coat to preserve.

For a durable finish I would use a combination of paint and Guilders Paste. Clean, prime and paint with a metallic gunmetal gray, shade with some black, highlight with metallics of your choice then clear coat to seal.

Guilders Paste
- guru - Thursday, 07/07/11 03:27:52 EDT

Camp Fenby Kicks Off: I will be largely ornamental; but we're going to see how it goes. I had some help, today, with the setup; the event starts (in fits and starts) Friday, and more of the crew is coming down Saturday for crabs and an evening longship voyage. At least everything is on site.
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 07/07/11 21:23:25 EDT

Bruce, Have a good weekend! Wish I could be there. Keep cool.
- guru - Friday, 07/08/11 00:29:03 EDT

It's too bad you can't go water skiing this year!

Don't get too crabby---will there be enough melted butter to quench a langsceax in?

Thomas P - Friday, 07/08/11 13:18:50 EDT

Little Giant 50lb: How much do the left and right toggle arms for a Little Giant 50?
- Hayden - Sunday, 07/10/11 20:06:40 EDT

LG toggle arms: How much do they WHAT??? Weigh? Cost? Eat?

For weight, Jock could probably guess pretty closely.

For cost, ask Sid Suidemeir; he's the Little Giant go-to guy.

As to how much they eat, if one breaks without a guard it might eat you when the spring goes flying.
- Rich - Sunday, 07/10/11 22:30:41 EDT

Hayden, You don't need to ask the same question on both of our forums. It also helps to write well formed questions in full sentences. See the guru's den for answers.
- guru - Sunday, 07/10/11 23:02:10 EDT

Forging Garden Tools: I've been looking for a book that provides detailed pictures and/or instruction on producing forged garden tools (hoes, rakes, forks, shovels, etc). Has anyone come across a volume that might be used to kick start some projects in that area? Thanks.
Ross - Monday, 07/11/11 13:14:37 EDT

Garden Tools: I haven't found much information about forging garden tools. I have a couple of Smith & Hawken catalogs from the 1980's. It is a British firm that makes good looking, quality tools. Their old hard copy catalogs had step by step drawings showing how a four pronged garden fork is forged of one piece. That included thinning, shaping and rolling the tapered socket. Sorry, I couldn't find the same drawings currently on the net, but their line of tools was apparently taken over by Target Department Stores. You can google to find photos of their tools.

Thomas, a friend residing in Naolinco, Vera Cruz, Mexico, gave me a hoe that he helped to make by striking with a sledge. It has a rectangular blade with an arc welded eye for the haft. I asked him about their approach. He said the master smith picked a piece of scrap from auto salvage about 1/2" thick by 4" by 4". They then proceeded to heat and flatten, heat and flatten until they got the necessary shape. The eyes were forge welded on in the Spanish Colonial days. See Simmons & Turley, "Southwestern Colonial Ironwork.

Tom Joyce gifted me with a quite large, triangular shaped hoe that he acquired from an old forge in Italy. It is a beautiful piece that looks like it may have been drop forged.

I think that nowadays most shovels are drop forged. It could be done by hand, but would require lots of thickness measuring with calipers and probably finishing with a belt sander or disc sander.

For each tool, heat treatment would be fairly involved. You might need a large gas forge and a quenching oil bath. Tempering could best be controlled in an oven with a pyrometer.

In any event, you will have your work cut out for you.
Frank Turley - Monday, 07/11/11 19:41:27 EDT

Aaron Craig: My Little Giant arms do not eat that much if that's any consolation.
- Aaron - Monday, 07/11/11 20:25:39 EDT

Forging Garden Tools: Ross, I don't think you will find what you are looking for all in one book. I've seen various garden tool instructions in almost every blacksmithing book but not a complete set. There will be an ax in one, a shovel in another and a rake in another.

There are also many ways to make each of the tools. Rakes can be made by splitting and bending the tines out of flat stock, welding the tines on, forging from solid. . . Most rakes have a tang that is much like one of the tines.

Forks are made like large rakes. Both are made out of a better grade of steel than mild such as a spring steel.

The best hoes are forged out of solid, the cheaper ones are welded.

Socketed tools have sockets made by various methods. Shovels have a two piece socket, the bottom part also strengthening the shovel. It covers about one third of the bottom of the bucket. See Bealer's The Art of Blacksmithing.

Richarson's Practical Blacksmithing has instructions for forging a 4 tined fork with tang from one piece of bar. Its a lot of forging. You form the tang on the end of the bar, split the bar, draw out the center around the tang a bit then split the two arms created by the first split. These splits are made about 2/3's forward from the back so that the outer tines have more material to forge them out longer. The tines are drawn out while pointed out in various convenient directions then bent to shape last.

This is found on page 178 of the third book (about 2/3's way through the 4 in 1 book. Rakes are made the same way. Some modern production rakes are made primarily by slitting or shearing the teeth then bending them.

We have instructions for several axes and a froe on our iForge page. Some tools have adz eyes, another process.

The older books do not give dimensions. They assume that a smith can figure these thing out. Doing so makes the final item yours. For shapes and designs I would start with looking at high quality tools of the type you want to make. Weigh them if you can. That will give you an idea of the amount of stock to start with. If there is going to be a lot of heats such as from hand forging then ad about 10 to 15% for scale losses. It pays to keep careful notes about starting stock sizes. Then if you want to make the next one a little heavier or larger, smaller or lighter then you know where to start.
- guru - Monday, 07/11/11 21:03:08 EDT

More Garden Tools:
Glad to know Frank's survey of the literature agrees with mine.

For general tool making and odd shape forgings Lillico's Blacksmiths Manual Illustrated is good. Weygers The Art of Toolmaking has some good information but many of the plans are backyard DIY. . .

Forging top quality tools are a good job for a small power hammer, especially if you want to sell the tools you make. The finest masons trowels are forged from one piece and taper from a center spine to very thin edges. Then there is lots of grinding. . . good job for one or more belt grinders.
- guru - Monday, 07/11/11 22:02:58 EDT

Craig: Guru has said in the past some of the best performing powerhammers he has seen have literally been overly lubricated, which was excellent sign of someone doing routine maintenance.

If your hammer does not already have one, make a screen guard fo the front to cover the springs.
Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 07/12/11 09:53:32 EDT

Even More Garden Tools:
Besides modern Western tools there are also Eastern and African design tools. In a film I recently watched (End of the Rainbow) about gold mining in West Africa it featured the native African farmers and a blacksmith making a traditional hoe used by the farmers. It was their primary tool and used for clearing, digging, planting and weeding. Despite its absolute necessity it was a primitive narrow hoe with a tang that goes perpendicularly through the handle. The hoe was also used for digging in traditional gold mines. This style tool is little changed from the stone age.

They also show a heavy (about 5 pounds) locally made hammer used for breaking stone. Just a square bar with punched eye. Probably a Western influence.

The very brief scene of the tool maker is at 6 minutes into the film. No forging, just making a hole in the handle and mounting the hoe. But it does show his forge.

The film is an objective look at how industrial mining effects native cultures.
End of the Rainbow
- guru - Tuesday, 07/12/11 10:56:59 EDT

Even high end garden tools are dirt cheap compared to forging your own.

So if you are going to spend the time you might as well go custom all the way! Take a design you like and then make modifications to it that you think will make it *better*. This can be done through modifying the original or making your own from scratch.

Working out the techniques and order of work is part of being a smith.

Living out here in the desert SW I made a modified tool for cutting the central stem of tumbleweeds and it has a 5' handle on it as tumbleweeds are stickery. I'm now thining of modifying it to have a sharpened V cut unto the blade to make it easier to center on the stem.

Thomas P - Tuesday, 07/12/11 11:32:29 EDT

The Tumbleweed - Symbol of the old American west? :
Did you know the Tumbleweed is an import from Russia?


Some time in the 1800's some Russian immigrants brought some grain seed with them that was contaminated with the weed. . and the rest is movie history.
- guru - Tuesday, 07/12/11 15:54:38 EDT

Yup "Russian Thistle"
Thomas P - Tuesday, 07/12/11 17:19:32 EDT

Considering that the Native Americans came from
Siberia . . .
Mike BR - Tuesday, 07/12/11 18:47:41 EDT

Mike BR:

There is a legimate debate on that point. My personal opinion is eastern immigrants meet up with western immigrants at some point.
Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 07/12/11 22:57:20 EDT

Garden Tools: A few quibbles - Smith & Hawken is/was an American company that imported high end English gardening tools. Target carries some of their products, but at least up to 2 years ago, they also had independent stores - ran into 1 out near Columbus, OH.
A lot of American tools were drop forged and then heat treated. I know that Ames, around 20 years ago was using spring steel and heat treating in controlled atmosphere furnaces.

If you want to make a unique product for sale, you'll need to produce something different from major manufacturers both here and abroad - I'd suggest looking at old pattern books, for example, "Tools for the Trades & Crafts" An 18th century pattern book for R. Timmins & Sons, Birmingham - no agriculture implements, but axes, turn screws, sugar cutters, files, hammers, etc. - currently out of print and hard to find, but I'm sure others are out there - you might also look at French or German ones for the novelty/difference from English/American style tools.
- Gavainh - Tuesday, 07/12/11 23:16:03 EDT

Old Catalogs:
Even catalogs from 20 or 30 years ago have become valuable references. Old hardware catalogs from the 50's and earlier sell at rare book prices because of their content that can be found almost nowhere else.

Not too long ago old engineering libraries that consisted mostly of catalogs were looked at as trash to be hauled away. A few years ago I went to an auction and bid on some shelves of books from an old ironworks. I lost the bid but the guy that won wanted the shelves and tossed the books on the ground. . . I picked them up for FREE. But that was 20 years ago. Since then the Internet and on-line book inventories have made old catalogs a hot item.

Even mechanical parts catalogs have a great deal of value. The old catalogs had better line drawings and many had engineering application information better than any text book. This was not theoretical information with mysterious "plug your k factor in here" formulas either. It was practical how-to with k factors and service factors applicable to the specific products as well as the category in general.

One of our favorite catalogs in our office was a 1960's Timken Bearing catalog and reference set. The loose leaf catalog had full scale and half scale ink cross section drawings designed to be traced or copied right into your engineering drawing. These bearings come in various proportions as well as sizes so every part number bearing had a different drawing. Along with each drawing was the engineering information including the thrust to radial load K factor and operating life chart. For most designers this was enough but the second book had all the engineering application information for doing all the possible calculations needed.

Timken only published those references once and their new catalogs are the most miserable things you've ever seen. Without carefully studying the miles of tablular data and making little sketches you have no idea what the bearing proportions are. If you need close fit geometry you have to make your own drawings from the dozens of dimensions provided. . . The old catalog was infinitely better and probably helped establish Timken as THE roller bearing company at the time.

- guru - Wednesday, 07/13/11 10:16:28 EDT

Tumbleweed: When I replace my MIG wire, the leftover waste wire becomes steel tumbleweed! Thank God I never had to deal with birdnesting in the machine.
- Nippulini - Wednesday, 07/13/11 12:07:47 EDT

Forging garden tools : Go to Youtube and search for Bulldog tools. There are a number of videos of them forging garden tools. Yes they are using dedicated tooling including forging rolls, but you can learn a lot about the way the metal is formed.
- JNewman - Wednesday, 07/13/11 12:26:30 EDT

Tool Forging: Here is a great video of a small japanese shop forging traditional mattocks and hoes-

no, they dont hand forge them- but their tooling is actually pretty simple, and its maybe a 5 man shop in total- definitely much more cottage industry than giant factory.

I dont think shovels have been hand forged by any major maker for several hundred years- I know a few smiths have been to visit the shovel factory in Austria that has been forging shovels with water powered hammers for at least two hundred years-

Water powered helve hammers in europe go back close to 500 years, as I understand it.

Forging ONE shovel by hand is do-able, but no company only makes one. Nor have they for the last few centuries.
- ries - Wednesday, 07/13/11 14:17:03 EDT

When I was in Croatia in 2001 I noticed they did raised hill gardening. Had a special hoe which was like a half-circle. Brought back two of the heads. Didn't make it through the X-ray, but then they said as long as it was in my luggage and didn't go in the cabin area they were OK. Very nice quality work. I suspect likely from Germany.
Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 07/13/11 14:40:19 EDT

When I was in Germany I stopped by a smithy that had been in the same place for about 500 years---now a museum. They had a video of the smith forging a how from 2" sq stock using a board drop hammer and then a powerhammer. I can dig out their info if requested.
Thomas P - Wednesday, 07/13/11 15:42:45 EDT

MIG Nests: You never should have said that, Nip! That's just baitin' Fate and you gotta know that you're gonna get one any day now. (grin)
- Rich - Wednesday, 07/13/11 16:11:19 EDT

Tool Manufacturing: Where tools are made and where they end up is interesting. In Central America the Campesinos all carry machetes and it has become the symbol of farm labor movement. While many are manufactured locally many also bear trade names from Europe. Sollingen is the popular top quality import. I was surprised when we bought one in a rural Ferreateria in Costa Rica.

Companies like Dixon and MOB bought tools world wide then market many under their name world wide. Dixon had their name put on dozens of makers products.
- guru - Wednesday, 07/13/11 21:18:04 EDT

Wrought Iron Welding: Looking for advice on attaching wrought iron to wrought iron using a welding process. The project is historical preservation - 1" diameter window grills on a pre 1900's court house. The wrought grill ends corroded and need to have new ends attached. Thanks in advance ...
- Tom - Friday, 07/15/11 14:39:55 EDT


How did you come up with the name of Anvilfire?
- Ken Scharabok - Friday, 07/15/11 14:42:44 EDT

Welding Wrought: Tom, Wrought is best welded by forge (AKA fire or hammer) welding. However, it is a process you need a lot of experience with and is tricky when making repairs.

Normally when a smith makes a forge weld he upsets (makes larger) the ends to join. When the two ends are joined the area is worked back down to the surrounding bar size. This prevents having a reduced area at the weld.

Welding wrought by all modern processes is problematic. Wrought is pure iron fibers in a matrix of silica slag producing a wood grain like consistency. Like wood it will split with the grain and if nicked and bent will break across the grain.

When welding by modern methods the silica slag melts out and leaves considerably less material than you started with. This also increase the slag load when using coated rods and may prevent MIG welding. You can also weld it with a torch but need to add a lot of filler to make up for the lost material. I prefer torch welding it due to the control.

Rusted wrought is even more problematic. Old wrought that LOOKS OK may have internal rust or missing slag. In either case the metal is not as solid as it originally was will behave badly when heated, occasionally falling apart. When smiths rework such wrought they flux heavily and bring the whole up to welding heat and carefully pat the whole back together. However, this is not applicable to a repair as the whole piece is being reshaped. When restoring something made of wrought in this condition most smiths will scrap the original and make an all new replacement. Depending on the job the replacement may be mild steel or if the budget allows and the restoration requires it, wrought iron.
- guru - Friday, 07/15/11 16:04:46 EDT

The anvilfire Name:
Ken, When I decided to launch my own Q&A blacksmith site I sat down with a pencil and wrote a few names down. I wanted a non-dictionary word that was made up so that it was copyrightable and trademarkable without conflict. I also wanted something that started with an "A" because many listings are alphabetical. I think anvil+fire was the first thing I wrote down and nothing else compared. I think some of the other names I came up with were already in use OR very close so no good.

At the same time I outlined most of the original features of and came up with the name "Slack-Tub-Pub" for our chat. I purposely left off a couple things (notably the used equipment page) because they were already being done very well by The Blacksmiths Junkyard. I also outlined a number of standing articles and book reviews many of which have been updated numerous times. . .

Coming up with original names that work well is a difficult creative art. You often slave over them with no success. The best ideas usually come to you in a flash (of genius, inspiration or luck). anvilfire was one of those flashes. While I am generally not the guy that comes up with instant puns, jokes or great words I've also named products for other people. Big Blu would be selling the "Neutron" hammer if I had not come up with "Big Blu Max" (derived from the German ace flying award the Blue Max). It was another one of those flashes. . . It was so good I did a bunch of research to be sure it wasn't taken. I also named the previous Big Blu series the QC hammers. While it stands for Quick Change it also hints of "Quality Control". A twofer.

When I decided to launch our public equipment sales page I had purposely left out all those years ago I knew I needed a name. "The anvilfire Tailgate" was not too big of a stretch. It has taken me a lot longer to get it going than to name it. I should have launched it the day KeenJunk closed down. . .

Back in the 70's I had a foreign car garage and a fellow wanted me to go into business with him in his wire wheel rebuilding business. I came up with the name for that one as well. The Wire Wheel Works. WWW. . . kind of snappy and makes nice monograms. This was years before the "World Wide Web" or the TV Wrestling folks. .

The guy that has great product names and a great mind for it is David Starr of Chile Forge. His product line and ad lines are great. Hot Chile Forges. . .
"Get Fired UP", "Some like it hot", "Strike while the forges are hot", "Harness the power of Fire". . .

His latest is "The Diablo is in the details". Great stuff.
- guru - Friday, 07/15/11 17:12:16 EDT

Uzbekistani Demo at Turley's: One of our New Mexico smiths, Ed Fasula, made contact with an exhibiting smith at the Santa Fe Folk Art Museum International Market last weekend. The exhibitor was Shavkidin Kamolov from Uzbekistan. He had some pattern welded knives, and when he found that Ed was a smith, he asked if there was a shop in Santa Fe where he could demonstrate his technique. Ed lives about 40 miles out, so he called me. I volunteered the shop for today's use. This was impromptu, but we had about 10 people show up for the demo. Shavkidin arrived at 9:30PM and requested more light, so we got an overhead lamp. Then, he wanted an apron, which we furnished. He picked up my 2½ pound hand hammer and said, "Bigger." I gave him a 4½ pound one that he liked. He used I believe nine pieces of alternating mild steel and 5160, each piece being about 1/8" x 1½" x 4½". They were stacked and roughly arc welded on either end, and a 2½' rod was arc welded on for a handle. He fluxed with borax. My journeyman-helper Daniel, was the striker for double striking the bundle together into one cohesive mass. The striking tempo was rapid and hard. Shavkidin used a six pound hand sledge and Daniel used and eight pound striker's sledge. I think that there were three cut-and-folds. The blade was criss-crossed into small squares with a tiny dremel wheel, then hammered flat again, no flatter used. By 11:45 the blade was rough shaped. There was wome grinding and sanding. Battery acid was the etchant. Each "square" had its own circular pattern...very nice.

I have made a few blades and have done not much pattern welding. This kind of work doesn't always float my boat, but it was fun to gopher for Shavkidin and watch him work. He really hustled. It is always nice to have visitors from afar and to make friends.
frank turley - Friday, 07/15/11 17:53:51 EDT

whoa!! 9:30AM: correction
frank turley - Friday, 07/15/11 17:57:12 EDT

Frank, It sounds like one of those great days. Watching the guys that do this all the time makes it look SO easy. . .
- guru - Friday, 07/15/11 22:06:30 EDT

Garden Tools: Bob Denman of Red Pig garden tools is an author, gardener, and blacksmith, who also sells some other brands of tools on his website.

Somewhere on my home computer I have some old tools sites bookmarked, I will try to find them Monday. I have also seen some coffee table books of older European garden tools with great color photos, but no instructions.
John McPherson - Saturday, 07/16/11 13:33:16 EDT

Drill Press Problems: My small bech-top electric drill press has been spinning free when it meets resistance maor and more. I know it's not the belt, and I'm sure that the problem lays between the sheaves and the chuck. Before I attempt to take it apart (and worse yet, try to put it back together) is there anything I need to know? Is this usually a simple problem of tightening a set screw, or should I start asking for a replacement for Christmas? (Good thing I have the two hand-cranked post drills as backups.) ;-)

Sunny and 80s on the banks of the lower Potomac. Still cleaning up from Camp Fenby, but eventually all of the tools will turn-up somewhere. Working on light projects while in cardio rehab.
Visit your National Parks! Frederick Law Olmstead did some awsome landscapes and gardens.
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Saturday, 07/16/11 16:31:58 EDT

Bruce, you don't say but are the belts tight? next check that the chuck in not spinning on the chuck arbor. Last check the jamb nut on top of the spindle that holds the sheave tight to the spindle. I have seen these in the cheap imports get loose and the sheave spins on the tapered but not keyed spindle. Easy to check, unplug the machine and open the belt cover. Next chuck a bar with a 90 degree bend that will stop the chuck when the bar lays against the column. The turn the motor sheave by hand and look for where movement stops.
ptree - Saturday, 07/16/11 18:48:42 EDT

Drill Press Repairs:
It is probably something small and simple like a key out of place. But getting to it may be a pain. Removing the quill requires disengaging the clock spring in the feed mechanism. They are the typical rewind spring with no hint of how many turns to preload. . . lots of trial and error. IF you can avoid disconnecting this, do so.

As Ptree noted test everything logically. Turn the top of the shaft and be sure the bottom of the spindle is connected. Be sure the chuck is not slipping (however, they will usually fall off if slipping.

As to the value of repairing the machine that is up to you. I doubt that any parts are involved other than making a key or pin so no cost would be involved. Have fun!
- guru - Saturday, 07/16/11 20:32:30 EDT

"using a welding process" I'd suggest using explosive welding as they do a lot of that around here; but I'd bet that WI would just fray apart for that. Vacuum welding would probably be a hassle too as would be stir welding, etc----*LOTS* of welding processes and some of them don't even require a million dollars of equipment!

"Wrought Iron It's Manufacture, Characteristics and Applications; Aston, James and Story, Edward B mentions arc welding on WI but as they are pushing the stuff they might be a tad sanguine on how easy it is to use.
Thomas P - Tuesday, 07/19/11 16:37:48 EDT

Arc welding wrought was also done in the bare wire days.
- guru - Wednesday, 07/20/11 08:55:58 EDT

wrought iron welding: Tom..
the wrought iron repair you need is not that difficult, I do it all the time.
preheat the steel replacement material because the wrought is much softer, use a low heat, maybe 70 amps, 3/32 7018 rod, bevel the top piece if you are joining vertical bars, it doesn't matter if it is wrought or steel, bevel the top piece slightly tack it in, then fill the spaces, like a charm
- larry - Wednesday, 07/20/11 16:21:55 EDT

Old Tools:
- John McPherson - Friday, 07/22/11 19:18:12 EDT

Las Conchas Fire: Sorry for beating the proverbisl dead horse, but I wanted to report on the forest fire that at one time, threatened the "Atomic City," Los Alamos, NM. It started June 26th and is sill burning. It is pretty well contained with current "mopping up" operations. The fire seemed to finally head southwestly getting onto portions of Cochiti and Santo Domingo Indian Reservations. It is New Mexico's largest fire on record, have burned some 156,500 acres. After a number of days of drought, we finally had rain in portions of northern New Mexico, the problem being that ash from runoff has found its way to the Rio Grande making it turbid in places.
Frank Turley - Sunday, 07/24/11 00:48:17 EDT

Drought and Excess:
Frank, While you are having drought in the Southwest, here in the Southeast we are having wet conditions such that we have spring green grass and foliage in July when we normally dull dark green trees and dull green to dry grass. We have not had too much rain but have had very regular weekly and late afternoon thunderstorms. Our weed lawn is now several feet deep after having been bush hogged about 2 months ago. . . It would be chest high if it not been mowed! We have varieties of wildflowers growing that we have not seen in five years.

Things tend to average out but that does not help the local situation.
- guru - Sunday, 07/24/11 02:38:03 EDT

I now longer can get a daily newspaper and don't watch much news TV. Are the large lakes in Northern GA recovering?

TN & GA have a land dispute going back perhaps over 100 years. GA saids when the state was surveyed, it was suspose to go to the middle of the Tennessee River. Stops a couple miles short of it. TN won't concede them that land. Apparently they won't let them draw water out of it either.
Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 07/24/11 13:20:27 EDT

Many land disputes are associated with rivers. Is the boundary the center, the near side or the far side? On a local river neither side had claimed jurisdiction over the islands in the river and they became a haven for gamblers. Later the same islands were claimed by a lawyer who made up a deep for unclaimed land. In fact they were clearly titled in the opposite jurisdiction. . .

The routes of rivers and roads which have been used as boundaries occasionally change. If there was not a previous survey of the boundary then conflicts occur. Water rights get even more complicated.

Today maps and surveys are much more concise.
- guru - Sunday, 07/24/11 13:41:08 EDT

High Hummingbird Season:
It is high season for Ruby Throated Humming birds here in North Carolina. We see the first handful around April 10 to 15th. Then about the first of June their numbers double and we see up to 6 to 8 birds on the feeders, occasionally more. Another 6 weeks later the second batch of humming birds leave the nest and come to our feeders. Now there are birds at the feeders all the time and flurries of a dozen or more in the morning, evening and after thunderstorms. Sheri makes up 2 quarts of sugar water for them every day in July and August.

We have photographed and observed the voracious little birds for many hours. We've found that many things written about humming bird behavior are false. Many sources say they are very territorial but all the chasing and and dive bombing and going round and round appears to simple play like puppies or children wrestling. They will chase each other a while then pause to feed then chase then feed some more. Males, the supposedly very territorial birds will perch and feed on the same feeder with other males and females alike. At peak feeding times they are very cordial. Between peak feeding times they play and chase each other (perhaps mating games) more than other times.

One reference claimed that each bird would have a territory of 1/4 acre. They cover that much ground in seconds making it impossible to defend. Occasionally one bird, usually a male will stake out a feeder as his own and try to chase off all the other birds. We have named theses guardian birds. They are only successful until more than one of the other birds join together to roust the guardian bird. A few guardian's are stubborn and keep up their behavior but the gang attacks increase until they give up (or learn better). This seems to indicate that territorial behavior is not acceptable in humming bird society.

The life of the hummingbirds in North America is interesting and precarious. They migrate to Southern Mexico and Central America in the winter and travel all the was to Canada and Alaska in the spring. The Eastern birds cross the Gulf of Mexico on their way North and skirt the Gulf on their way South, ostensibly avoiding Hurricanes. Their trip is difficult enough that what starts out as two or three dozen birds with only 6 to 10 returning.

We look forward to the arrival of the humming birds in the spring and miss them when they leave in the fall.
- guru - Sunday, 07/24/11 14:47:06 EDT

I got to forge on one of Jymm Hoffmans colonial style anvils today, a guy had one at a colonial trade fair, I had to try it out.I think I might have to get one,a little pricey for a 100 pounder,but they are nice.
Greg S - Sunday, 07/24/11 21:00:42 EDT

Greg, The blocky pattern of an Old English anvil is more effective for their weight than a much larger anvil.
- guru - Sunday, 07/24/11 22:27:28 EDT

Guru,I forge daily on a 465 pound Steve Fontini Rat Hole anvil and find myself using my 150 pound Peter Wright most days for work other than large work. I keep getting asked to do colonial fair demos and would like a period anvil other than using a PW, The hoffman anvil would fit the bill. I am putting together a portable forge with bellows for period demos, the Overmountain men came through my area and mustered where I will be forging.
Greg S - Sunday, 07/24/11 22:40:27 EDT

Period Anvils:
So few people know the difference between a 20th century anvil and an 18th century anvil that it makes little difference to anyone except an expert.

In Colonial Williamsburg, one of the sticklers for authenticity they used to have a 20th Century anvil in the blacksmith shop. At the time it was probably provided by the smith OR at least purchased by him.

In some movies they have gotten better about authenticity but I believe it mostly has to do with where the movie was filmed. In the original Highlander movies all the forging scenes at the old mountaintop home have a 20th century London pattern anvil in a scene that is supposed to be in the 15th century. In A Knight's Tale they have some wonderful old European anvils and equipment. It may not be perfectly to the period but it is very old equipment. I suspect that came from filming in Czechoslovakia.

To 99.9999% of people on this planet all anvils look like a 20th Century London pattern anvil.
- guru - Monday, 07/25/11 01:09:26 EDT

I have have bought a number of parcels of land adjoining mine, so a deed with each one. Earlier the deed might read, northwest to the stump of a 12" white oak tree. Where a creed was involved, property line was the middle of the flastest flow of water. I'va actually gain a couple of acres as the creek washes out a nighbor's field and leaves a large garvel bar on my side.

Now it is all GPS reference points.
Ken Scharabok - Monday, 07/25/11 11:37:22 EDT

Anvil appearance: I venture that 99+ people on the planet don't have any idea about anvil shape. Even cartoonists miss the boat when it comes to drawing one. Furthermore, the "conventional folks" may have a dim idea of a forge, but it is dim. As for a leg vise, forget it!

I recently sold my 85# English Colonial anvil to "Ten Hammers" in Iowa. He does occasional history demos.
Frank Turley - Monday, 07/25/11 12:05:14 EDT

Frank, I agree, that 99% applies to just about anything, antique cars, furniture, guns, etc.I still would like to use one of Jymms anvils, they are nice
Greg S - Monday, 07/25/11 12:49:03 EDT

Anvil appearance:
I recently looked at a bunch of anvil clip art and a lot of it was 3D computer generated stuff. Most was pretty bad. In the photo category about half or more were Russian style ASO's. Rust and corrosion on these seems to be "in" artistically.

One of the earliest free clip art anvils was a cartoon of a Grizzly (the world's ugliest) style anvil. Sadly this has been used by hundreds of blacksmiths on personal cards and as website logos. Even the Blacksmiths Gazette used it in their web logo.

There is no accounting for taste in art. . .
- guru - Monday, 07/25/11 12:52:16 EDT

Folks tend to use what they can find; not what's best.

I know of a quite famous knifemaker that was commissioned to make a katana back 30 years ago or so. never having researched them he bought a $15 one from an ad in the back of a martial arts magazine and made a several thousand dollar copy of a terrible design!

So probably more folks have seen the HF anvil these days than an HB or Trenton or PW of Mousehole and so they use it's terrible shape.

Guru; could the territoriality be between different species of hummingbird? We get quite a large number of hummingbirds of different species here as we are in a flyway.

Rivers as boundaries: down here the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo was the boundary between two *countries* and so a flood could change what country your land was in.
Thomas P - Monday, 07/25/11 15:17:40 EDT

Humming Bird Species:
We have two species in NC but all we have seen is the Ruby Throated Hummingbirds.

In Costa Rica where they have from 14 to 20 varieties of Hummingbird (depending on whom you believe) we have seen four or five species at the same time at the same group of feeders. The chasing does not seem to discriminate.

As to the difference between behavior at feeders with very dense unending food and natural flowers, we have large Butterfly Bushes at the front of the house away from the feeders and the chasing behavior is similar as at the feeders. Several birds will tolerate each other for a while then they begin chasing each other again. The primary difference being that flowers have very limited amounts of nectar and the birds are in constant movement from flower to flower. On the other hand, birds not familiar with the feeders will go from hole to hole even though none has run out. . .
- guru - Monday, 07/25/11 16:59:23 EDT

River Boundaries: Well, when it comes to Maryland, the King (Charles I) gave the whole Potomac river to us. It's Maryland's (and a short segment of DC's) right up to the mean low water line. :-) In the "good-old-days" when Maryland's southern counties allowed slot-machine gambling, there we a number of casinos on wharfs projecting from the Virginia shore, with a saw-cut line across the pier at mean low water so that you could cross from Virginia into Maryland. Colonial Beach was famous for this.

These days various commissions decide who can oyster in what waters, where Viginians can pull fresh water, and other pesky problems; but it's still Maryland's river! :-)
Colonial Beach, VA
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 07/25/11 17:01:46 EDT

¿New Spain? & river boundries: After the Aztec conquest, Mexico City became the capetal of New Spain, which was quite extensive. It went way north of the Rio Grande, even though that area had not been explored as yet. Who knew what was there? Hispanic names were affixed to areas of New Spain however. So we get names like Colorado (red, ruddy color); Montaña (mountain); and Nevada (snow covered).
Frank Turley - Wednesday, 07/27/11 12:12:12 EDT

I think the best example of dividing things up while not knowing what's there is the Treaty of Tordesillas where Pope Alexander VI divided up the New World between Spain and Portugal---Portugal got Brazil which was mainly amazonian jungle and Spain got the gold of the Aztecs and Incas. (and yes there were negotiated changes to it between Spain and Portugal; but it's the reason that most of South America speaks spanish except for Brazil where they speak portugese

Thomas P - Wednesday, 07/27/11 15:48:36 EDT

I think there were a lot of divisions of the New World that were entirely misunderstood by the people (generally various monarchs) making the decisions.

Even today many borders are gray areas where lines have been drawn but the people that live there did not observe historically and may still not observe the artificial lines.
- guru - Wednesday, 07/27/11 17:15:05 EDT

Given that borders are a mental construct it is very interesting to go down to El Paso and look at how things appear on both sides of one. Clear indication of the power of ideas in the real world!
Thomas P - Wednesday, 07/27/11 19:20:30 EDT

I was thinking more of remote borders where supposedly different people live on each side but are mixtures of both or the same on both. . .

Busy borders where rich and poor meet are a different thing and often quite shocking. Use Google Earth to look at the Gaza Strip. It is urban, brown and poor surrounded by lush green irrigated Israeli farms. Even the Egyptian side of the border looks better than Gaza.

You can also look at the Texas Mexico border and see dozens of dirt track roads crossing poor scub land toward the US. On the U.S. side there are few roads to meet them. . .

Google Earth is a fantastic tool to study both geography and social studies.
- guru - Thursday, 07/28/11 00:05:38 EDT

Little Giant 50: Anybody have a pair of Little Giant 50 toggle arms they'd part with?
- Hayden - Thursday, 07/28/11 00:39:15 EDT

Unlikely as they are the first thing to wear out OR get bent from improper setup. You will have better luck finding an entire hammer somewhere. . .

But it didn't cost anything to ask.

It is possible to fabricate these from plate and blocks of steel.
- guru - Thursday, 07/28/11 03:13:35 EDT

Toggle arns: Try Sid has some, but will they fit? Look at his parts list.
Frank Turley - Thursday, 07/28/11 11:23:44 EDT

Price: I'm just looking to see if I can find parts for a 50 L.G. cheaply, because $1,300+shipping is alot of money to a 15 year old (Me)
Hayden - Thursday, 07/28/11 15:54:59 EDT

How many arms were you planning on buying, Hayden? I looked at Sid's website and it looked to me as though those arms were a bit over $200 each - how did you get $1300?

It would cost substantially more than that to forge a new pair from 4140, that's for sure. I don't think Sid's $210/ea price is anything you're going to beat anywhere else.
- Rich - Thursday, 07/28/11 17:13:27 EDT

$414 for toggle arms, springs $78, spring caps $35, tension bolts $22, then the nut for the tension bolts $6, and then I have to find someone to do the babbitt, the main part of that $1,300 is if I can't get the die out of the ram head which is $640. (Somebody welded into place)
Hayden - Thursday, 07/28/11 18:23:36 EDT

Where one person can weld another can grind!
Thomas P - Thursday, 07/28/11 19:39:57 EDT

Little Giants: At one time I had 4 little giants from 250 to 50 pounds. The 100 pound hammer was a 1917 model with all the original parts except the dies. The clutch bearings were very worn but the machine had earned its previous owner over $100,000 in that condition and would run many more years in the same condition.

The last LG I purchased was a 50 pound hammer with a 1HP single phase motor. It had a broken spring that had been brazed back together in three places. VERY dangerous. But I only paid $850 for the hammer and being single phase 110 it could be plugged in and used just like it was. I had gotten a quote on a new spring for $125 but did not know that Sid Sudemeier was selling them at the time for $10 or I would have bought one. . (They now cost about what the quote I had on a custom made spring was going to cost).

Other than the spring this hammer ran fine. It had a little bearing wear and the dies were not very pretty but all it needed was a spring to run for years.

I sold that hammer when I sold off a bunch of my equipment. I sold it for what I paid for it and the guy I sold it to sold it for about $1500.

The guy who bought it for $1500 spent a fortune on it restoring it and wrote a bunch of articles on it. The fact was it could have had a new spring for $10, oiled well, the dies dressed a bit and run for years.

Yes, both these hammers needed repairs but both could have (and had been) run for years as they were.

My point is that you need some mechanical acumen and judgment to run old machinery. Age has nothing to do with this. Many middle aged artist blacksmiths do not have a clue but talk a big story. The difference is that some folks can affordably run old machinery, old cars, repair old houses. . . while others spend and spend and spend. . .

Many old LG's have stuck dies. Many have also had their dovetails broken trying to remove the dies. A smith with common sense will leave this sleeping dog alone. They will oil the doevtails, dress the dies in place and run the machine AS-IS. Occasionally they will give the wedges a couple taps and if nothing happens just keep going AS-IS.

I drove ancient 30 and 40 year old tucks for decades. I did not restore them or spend a fortune on them, I fixed what needed fixing and ran them as cheaply as possible. This takes skills AND effort. I did 100% of all the work myself from valve and carberator work to electrical, body and tires. A non-mechanic would have spent thousands on repairs and gotten less service for the all that money.

If you don't have the mechanical skills then expect to pay and pay and pay. I have a distinct feeling that after you spent the $1300 there would be more to spend. . .
- guru - Thursday, 07/28/11 21:58:26 EDT

L.G.: There are 3 reasons I want a power hammer, 1, It'd speed up drawing time, 2 I like mechanics of old stuff, 3, I just want something massive that holds its value. I'd rather spend my money on tools and equipment that keeps its value, than some stupid video game thats outdated in 2 weeks. But I wanna see if I can make rebuilding this into my AG project for this year. I have decent mechanical know-how, have access to vast amounts of tools, and equipment, I just wanna prove all of my "You can't fix that" family wrong
Hayden - Thursday, 07/28/11 23:19:40 EDT

Hayden: Jock's point is that with old machinery, there are things that You just "put up with" and learn to work around. Fix what You must to get it going, learn to work around what isn't cost effective to repair [the welded /stuck die]. At some future point You will have more money and more skills to work with, at that point if You want to make improvements, You can.

There are some lines [that I don't remember all of] from what was supposed to be an American Indian prayer about having the courage to attempt the things You can change, the strength accept the things You can't change and having the wisdom to know the difference.
- Dave Boyer - Friday, 07/29/11 01:08:24 EDT

Mechanical Skills:
The skills of repairing machinery are those of a mill wright and machinist.

The babbiting is a fairly simple task that is within any mechanics capability. There are some special tools (a dummy shaft) and fixturing that is required but those are also things that you figure our on your own. You CAN get away with using the existing shaft but the heavy crank wheel on the LG shaft makes it difficult. There are manuals on the subject and articles in the early Machinery's Handbook.

Often off-the-shelf hardware is no different than factory. Those $6 nuts are standard heavy hex nuts. Knowing that OR figuring it out are part of having mechanical skills (check some catalogs).

Reverse engineering and making parts you cannot afford to buy are also part of these skills. Measuring mangled and worn parts, making properly dimensioned technical drawings so that you OR someone else can make the parts is part of the job. Drafting courses anyone?

There are tools then there are dial calipers, micrometers and dial indicators. . . These generally are not needed when doing a basic power hammer rebuild but are needed for many other machines.

There are mechanical skills and there are mechanical skills. . . You can learn them young but you have to work at it. My father started teaching me to use machines when I was 11 years old and by the time I was 15 I was repairing motorcycles and building machinery and I was doing all kinds of auto-mechanics when I 17 (transmissions, body work).

A Little Giant is not much more sophisticated than a piece of farm machinery. The dynamics tricky but repairs have little to do with the how the machine works. There ARE some fine tuning aspects that you might want to get our Little Giant tune up video to learn from.
- guru - Friday, 07/29/11 02:45:00 EDT

Rebuilding/Repairing Machinery: Jock said, "There are mechanical skills and there are mechanical skills." I would add to that that these days there are a few mechanics around and LOT of guys who call themselves mechanics but who are nothing more than "parts changers." Any damfool with a book and some wrenches can swap out parts all day long and cost someone a fair fortune in parts trying, often unsuccessfully, to get a machine running. A real mechanic, on the other hand, understands the mechanical principles and physics involved in the proper functioning of that piece of machinery and has an "empathy" with it, allowing him to do only what needs to be done and do it correctly. The mechanical principles, the physics and the materials science can all be taught, but the empathy is a natural trait that you either do or don't have. The empathy factor equals the others combined, particularly when it comes to old machinery.

The best value you could get out of that old LG Hayden, is the learning you would derive from doing the work yourself. You can do the babbitt pour yourself with some care and planning. Read up on it, particularly old articles from the 30s and 40s and you'll see ways you can do it. I did it when I was about your age and managed to get a serviceable pour on about the third or fourth try. The bad pours I just scraped back out and started over, having learned another necessary bit. If I can, then you can, I'm sure.

Before you resign yourself to buying a new ram assembly, or try to undo that welded-in die, look closely at the whole thing. Clean it spotless first and use a magnifying glass - was the die welded in because the ram was broken, or because it kept coming loos and hitting the guides? You might want to leave it alone and work around it in the first case, and in the second case the welds shouldn't be too difficult to clear out with a die grinder and abrasive discs and make it right. The right choice could save you big bucks and get you going sooner, the wrong choice could get expensive. There's a goodly bit of detective work involved in repairing old machinery.

Best of luck with it!
- Rich - Friday, 07/29/11 07:58:54 EDT

L.G.: Thats something I didn't even think of! If the dies welded into place, then maybe the guides are broken or its cracked.... Thats a very good point
Hayden - Friday, 07/29/11 09:03:42 EDT

mechanics?: I recently had my car in the garage, and when I called to see how they were doing, the service manager said, "Just a second; I'll check with my TECHNICIAN."
Frank Turley - Friday, 07/29/11 10:29:39 EDT

Mechanics: Late model cars are much too high tech and have taken away the opportunity for youth to learn a lot about machinery. My first two trucks were 1950's Chevy and GMC models. Their level of technology had not changed well into the 1970's. When I went into business working as a sports car mechanic even the high performance cars were relatively low tech. Clean and properly adjusted made most things work. Even electronics were adjustable and repairable.

Then came electronic systems added to carburetors, solid state devices and finally full computer controls. Much of this is poorly designed from a maintenance standpoint and nothing is standardized. Every year the electronics are different. The best "technicians" and newest diagnostic equipment cannot cope with it all. We have a late model Toyota that several shops have not been able to fix or get the "check engine" light to turn off. . . Forget a backyard mechanic being able to do ANYTHING with this stuff.

The only plus is that late model vehicles are generally VERY dependable and cheaper to operate than the old cars. But the high tech has taken away opportunities for teenagers to buy an old cheap car and fix it up themselves and learn mechanics in the process.
- guru - Friday, 07/29/11 11:48:30 EDT

The best toyota mechanic we ever had came over on the Vietnamese boat lift and was cycled through Fort Chaffee in AR. He had great experience working on vehicles with minimal equipment and diagnosed a small tear in the diaphragm of the fuel pump by just smelling the exhaust! Turned a massively expensive engine repair the dealership suggested into a simple change out the fuel pump.

I also had an old truck once that the timing chain stretched enough that the slap on it wore through the cover. Our favorite mechanic in that state told me he couldn't fine one used and the cost of the new one would not be worth it for that old a truck. Since it wasn't a part that did much I asked if it could just get the hole welded up. He thought that was a great idea and so another expensive repair became trivial by using a different set of skills.

Thomas P - Friday, 07/29/11 13:47:23 EDT

Old trucks: I grew up learning to fix old trucks, starting with a 34 Ford PU. Simple flathead V8, standard trans and no frills. Had a 47 Indian motorcycle that was the same, except only a V2 flathead. :-) Those things taught me a great deal about machinery in general and inventiveness through necessity.

Passing through Roswell, NM in an old beat-up 59 Ford PU the thing spun the bearing on a crank pin, leaving me in the middle of nowhere. Took me an hour and a half and a section of my belt to replace that bearing on the side of the highway and I drove it all the way home to Colorado. It was one of those things I'd overheard some old duffer telling another guy at some point and I remembered it when the time came and managed to figure out how to do it.

If my 2000 Ford Ranger stranded me I'd mostly be out of luck as there's just too much of it that is wedded to the computer system, something I know less than nothing about.

I will say that the computer controlled things will pretty much tell you where to look if you have one of the little on-board diagnostic (OBD) reader dongles. I have a cheap one I got for fifty bucks so I could turn off the check engine light in Sally's Rodeo, which would come on every few months when we'd get a tank of funky fuel and the oxygen sensor would get wonky. You just have to sort through ta chart of a few hundred diagnostic codes to figure out what the thing is saying.

I still prefer the old machines as I can kind of understand them. Good thing, since you have to be able to understand them since they don't understand themselves the way the newer ones do! (grin)
- Rich - Friday, 07/29/11 14:55:01 EDT

While on a vacation trip along the Blue Ridge Parkway in our old 1950 GMC with a 56 engine the external oil line to the head broke off right at the compression fitting. When you have just passed the sign that says next gas 65 miles and the oil pressure plummets to zero, its a really bad sinking feeling. . ..

After a brief period of panic I thought that I could replace the brass compression ferrule with packing. Then to find some string for packing. . . Then my wife said she had some waxed dental floss. . . Worked slick as could be. I didn't replace it until I had to remove the head two years later.

I had the arm off a lever type fuel pump fall off into the pan of a little Nash Metropolitian I had at the time. I also had no money for a rare and pricey fuel pump. So I borrowed the fuel tank from a little boat my Dad had. It had a manual fuel pump for priming. Of course that expected a pump on the boat engine. So I had to pump the squeeze bulb constantly as I drove. . . You REALLY learn to drive conservatively when you have to pump fuel by hand. . .

The lever lying loose in the oil pan REALLY bothered me. Like most later cars you could not remove the pan without removing the engine. So I bought all the long reach extraction devices I could find at Sears. A long reach telescoping magnet and a cable finger gripper. It took a few very frustrating hours to fish the part out from under the baffle in the oil pan but I finally got the arm out. I put it back on the fuel pump with a stock dowel pin for the shaft and staked it better than the original. . . That pump lasted for many more years.

When I was working on British cars commercially I often rebuilt electric fuel pumps and voltage regulators. Normally these are not economical to rebuild but in the mid 70's the price of these parts quadrupled and then became hard to get.

We also did a lot of valve adjustment on the TR7 overhead cam engines. I was one of the few mechanics with micrometers and understood the math of reshimming. Due to valve wear you most often needed to remove shims. But to make a .001 or .0015 adjustment there was no shim that size. You had to shuffle .022 shims with .021 shims or .0125's for .013's. A lack off shim sets meant inventorying what was on the head and then figuring out what would work where. Since you always had shims left over (unless replacing valves) I eventually had a small collection that made it much easier.

Today, when almost anything goes wrong its a trip to the shop. . . so much for the good old days. . .
- guru - Friday, 07/29/11 17:42:35 EDT

If you need to get replacement dies get a quote from Big BLU Manufacturing. They made two stage rounded dies for my air hammer and I'm very pleased with them and their price.
- Ken Scharabok - Friday, 07/29/11 19:43:32 EDT

I too learned on an old flat head. My first car was a 52 Plymouth. Then a Corvair, then a 65 Ford with a 289 V-8. From that I went to a 90 degree over head valve,Hemi head, transverse mounted aircooled rear engine with 4 side draft Webers and it was a whole 1200CC (NSU). Then a half V-8 IH Scout, then an aircooled VW.
And all of these taught me much, since every single one of them required constant attention, the brakes were crap, the bodies were rust heaps on wheels in a few years. The steering was usually imprecise when new and went downhill from there. The exhaust systems were gone in a couple of years and the tires wore out in 25,000 miles. Plugs points cap rotor and condenser were a regular item.The seats were miserable and when they were in a wreck you hit metal and often died.

I much prefer my recent cars that have yielded from 150,000 to 250,000 miles with little to no unusual maintenance. I get 50,000 miles from tires, the exhausts last the life of the car, the seats are nice, the brakes don't fade and last much longer. They cheap Cavalier handles better than most of the 50's and 60's sports cars. My Cavalier has 236,000 miles and has had a new air conditioner compressor. It has had a new alternator and starter, and a new cooling fan motor. That is all. I do not count batteries and rubber items as maintenance.
So, lets see, less than $700 in parts for 236,000 miles. AND I did the maintenance except for the AC.
We have had similar performance from 2 vans from Chrysler and a dodge K car wagon, all since 1988.When was the last time you had to change the plugs in your current car? most go 60 to 75K miles.

Would I like to have a sharp 68 Hemi GTX? Sure. Drive that kidney buster with bad brakes every day? No.
ptree - Friday, 07/29/11 19:56:33 EDT

Cheap slave: I was just going to do a bit of forging. Couldn't do any as the power isn't working. How much we take electricity for granted until it isn't available!
- philip in china - Friday, 07/29/11 21:16:50 EDT

Absentee Utilities: Philip,

Down here in what we somewhat laughingly call America's Paradise, power outages are a weekly occurrence, though usually only for a couple or three hours at a time. After a tropical storm or hurricane they can go on for days or even weeks. Anyone who has a couple of synapses to rub together and a few extra bucks has a standby generator - I have two.

I have one 10 kilowatt genset for the house and another for the shop. The two are identical so I can cannibalize one for parts if necessary. They're Chinese made and seem to very sound units. I've done without in the past but didn't enjoy it, and these days I simply have to have them to make a living and keep my wife happy. Our electricity cost here is almost 75 cents a kilowatt hour so the gensets aren't even that un-economical a source of power. Noisy devils, though.
- Rich - Friday, 07/29/11 23:00:58 EDT

Car Tech: Yes, the new autos are much better than the old EXCEPT when it comes to maintenance. We have had several cases on the high tech stuff where the best dealers and other mechanics could not figure out what was wrong. Every time it was some electric glitch.

We had one Dodge van that SEEMED great that we paid a lot of money for as a used vehicle. . . But every now and then the thing would "stumble" the engine pausing and transmission going out of gear. Computers were replaced, wiring harnesses were replaced, data recorders used for a week at a time. The dealer service manager said he had replicated the problem but none of the analysis equipment showed the fault. . We finally traded the thing in at a great loss.

My current Dodge van also has a weird electrical problem. Occasionally when you open one of the doors the windshield wipers activate for a single cycle. . . This is very weird and could be a problem in icy weather before the windshield is thawed. . . Its a complete mystery.

And then the Toyota I mentioned before. The problem with the "check engine" light being on all the time is that it is one of those damned combined failure light that is the only thing that would tell you if the oil pressure was low. . . No matter how high tech an internal combustion engine gets the oil pressure and coolant temperature are critical things that should be clearly displayed.

I sure miss direct acting mechanical gauges that worked without electronics. . . When my 1950 Chevy truck was 40 years old all the gauges still worked perfectly INCLUDING the fuel gauge. On my much later 1978 Ford truck all the electric gauges except water temperature have failed. . .
- guru - Saturday, 07/30/11 11:44:53 EDT

Jock, I had a Dodge V-6 minivan that did the stumble, then surge bit. It had failing spark plug wires. They start to not fire, the computer senses the over rich exhaust and leans the mixture till the engine ceases to fire, and then it richens up and the engine surges. The dodges use very high voltage individual coils and it takes the real deal of OEM or truely equiv for the engine to run right. They usually last about 70K+ miles. I thought it was a tranny jumping out of gear and back in. My dealer put it on the computer and identifed the issue in about 15 minutes. They were going to replace the one bad wire, I splurged and bout a set and plugs as well. Cured that one perfectly. 1990 Gran Caravan with the 3.3l V-6.

The next one was a Plymouth Voyager with the 4 cyl. Scott drove it into a flooded road and got water to splash up onto the plug wie. One shorted thru a crack and it ran like it had sucked water and bent a valve. New plug wire cured that as well.

The new engines are indeed different. Many of the clues we used from the non-computer engines are no longer valid. I have a local independent garage, with the full suite of computer diagonogistic equipment. For $35 he will plug and tell me exactly what is wrong. He has not failed me or my kids yet in about 24 years.

I have been working on the new cars so long when my 72 Chevy truck needs a tune up I really have to think to remember how:)
ptree - Saturday, 07/30/11 13:26:51 EDT

Mechanical Toys: I loved my Erector Set by Gilbert when I was a kid! I was fortunate that I was able to combine it with my elder brother's kit for a really good setup. Except for getting my finger caught in the gears of the electric motor, which sawed a fingernail in half (slowly, inexorably, and painfully)* I had a great deal of fun, and even learned quite a few things with it. These days I just work on a bigger scale, but many of the same principles and lessons apply. For birthdays and Christmas, my parents could seldom go wrong with an educational/mechanical/science toy.

* (…and then I thought: "Why don’t I pull the plug?")

Erector Set (Check out the link to Meccano, too.)
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Saturday, 07/30/11 16:53:07 EDT

Auto Electrics: Jeff,

My brother Riley had a mid-size Dodge pickup (can't recall the model name) when he lived down here and he had that same stumbling, acting like it jumped out of drive sort of thing, but he just ignored it as he only drove the truck half a mile to work each day. A month or so later, the thing died completely. Turned out the spark plugs were shot and, as the gap opened up, the computer just kept upping the voltage to compensate until it toasted the distributor like a bagel. Who said computers were smart?

I like my Chinese diesel tractor - design straight out of the sixties, dead simple and tough as a 60s Powerwagon (but rattles less). Since the diesel only has electrics to turn the starter and provide lights at night, I can cope with it. Modern auto electrics are pure voodoo to me.
- Rich - Saturday, 07/30/11 19:30:26 EDT

Educational Toys: I had an Erector Set when I was about 4-5. It was not a fancy one but I learned a lot about bolting and frames. When our kids were teenagers my Mother found a BIG set that had been combined with others at an auction that non one appreciated. I reluctantly gave it to my son but he was a little beyond the erector set age and did not fully appreciate it. He was a Lego era kid that was now using computers and the structured nature of the Erector set was too limiting.

When I was 5 my Dad gave me a small bench made from some sort of old flea market end table with drawers. He put a small 2-1/2" jaw vise on it and gave me a bunch of stamped out bicycle wrenches. He told me those were MY tools and to leave his alone unless I asked. I still have the wrenches and my son has the vise. It was old then (55 years ago).

When I was about 10-11 I was given a Chemistry set. This was setup in the basement on the replacement for my little bench above. It was my "secret laboratory". After doing all the basic stuff with Ammonium chloride, phenolphthalein solution, sulfur, Cobalt Chloride. . . and bending the glass tubing on an alcohol lamp, mixing baking soda and vinegar, I spent years trying to make gunpowder. Since they would not sell us potassium nitrate we spent a lot of time making a slow burning version of flash paper and cutting match heads off matches. . . Learned a lot of amateur chemistry and knew most of the periodic table years before it was required in school. Also learned a lot you are not supposed to do. . .

That was followed by a microscope kit that I spent many hours with but was frustrated by its cheap optics. Years later I tried to talk a dealer at a flea market down from $250 to $200 on a very nice Bausch and Lomb for the kids. The dealer would not budge and I did not have the extra $50.

Our kids had Legos from an early age. They are a lot of fun but not quite so "real world" as the old Erector sets. But I gave them REAL tools from an early age. When they were 5 or 6 I gave them little work benches with vises that I built on a very similar but plan to the work bench in our FAQ's article. They were the right height for a 5 year old to stand at and an adult to sit at. Both still have them. The benches came with small metal fishing tackle boxes with tools. These included REAL 3 oz claw hammers made from forged steel NOT cast iron, miniature channel locks about 6" long, several screw drivers, linemans pliers, coping saw, fold out ruler, and a four in hand rasp. It had taken years of opportunistic purchasing to find all the smaller tools in good quality. The kids had great fun with them and learned to appreciate having tools. After that the only gifts I gave them were tools. Progressively bigger and more expensive over the years.

We have continued that tradition with Sheri's teen age granddaughter who was studying to be a mechanic and will probably do the same with my daughter's children. However, my granddaughter is such a girlie girl and want to be mother (at age 3-4) that I'm not sure if she will appreciate tools. . . Her younger brother on the other hand is a REAL boy that is into trucks, cars and any machine that makes noise and has turning parts. I fear giving him wrenches might be a dangerous thing! I expect he will want his own arc welder by age 10.

Woodworkers Work Bench
- guru - Saturday, 07/30/11 19:41:51 EDT

Chinese Tractors:
In Costa Rica small scale farming is VERY serious business and money is VERY tight. They have small Japanese and Chinese 4WD tractors there. Those that can afford them or do more than a little farming buy the Japanese tractors due to the engine life being about double the Chinese versions.

The Chinese tractors are good for someone that is not going to put in long hours with them. But for those who wear out such machines on a regular basis the Japanese machines, while more expensive initially cost about 25% less per hour during their lifetime.
- guru - Saturday, 07/30/11 19:49:10 EDT

Cost Effectiveness: Year ago I saw a cost comparison between a $38,000 Mercedes auto and a similar size and featured American auto that cost about $12,000 at the time. Over a 3 year period the Mercedes was cheaper to operate. The deciding factors were lower maintenance costs (due to dependability) and high resale value of the used Mercedes due to demand. However, that was for new vehicles. Later in life the simplest repairs on the Mercedes would cost several times the total replacement cost of the same American made car above.

Generally buying better quality machines and tools is more cost effective over a long life but if your need is only ocassional use then lower quality may be more cost effective. But this is only true if you do not get too cheap and end up with one of those never worked before it went into the box imports. . .
- guru - Saturday, 07/30/11 21:20:45 EDT

Tools For Children: I may only be 15, but when I was little (4-6), my babysitter was an old mechanic, and had all kinds of tools in big chests outside, and a small assortment inside for around the house.

When I was big enough to open those drawers I diss-assembled EVERYTHING. My greatest goal at that time was to take apart her old Grandfather Clock, because I wanted to see the gears. When I took the face off the clock, I thought I was gonna be killed.

Any real tool to enrich a child is a great thing. Some kids find tools and machinery absolutely fascinating, others go towards electronics. Most city boys (major metropolitan areas) don't know how to operate tools, and most of the farmers kids move to the bigger cities, so all the country handy-men are disapearing. Just like now, the droughts caused the big cattle men in my area to sell 60% of their stock. With the constantly increasing prices of cattle, no rain, no cotton, or wheat harvest. These little towns are about to go under.
Hayden - Saturday, 07/30/11 22:52:37 EDT

Kids & Tools: I was born into a mechanically inclined family of tradesmen, and got a real early introduction to hand and power tools.

My Dad being a biilder, had the full gamot of construction & wood working tools, but the home shop was equipped with an engine lathe, low speed drillpress, power hacksaw and arc welder for metal work as well.

My Grandpop, a machinist who had also been an auto mechanic in the '20s had a larger lathe, the same make drillpress and an oxy-acetylene torch.

They both had mechanic's tools, wrenches etc.

What amazes Me the most is the stuff My Dad and Grandpop built in the early '40s, when all they had besides hand tools was a 3/8 tripple reduction electric drill and a drillpress. They bolted EVERYTHING where My Dad & I in My youth were able to arc weld. I was 10 when I did my first payed welding repair, it looked like bird poop, but it held together. The hand crank start engine drive welder was about at My phisical limit at that age.

I too had parts from 2 erector sets, that gear reduction motor gave Me many blood blisters, but no permanant damage.

Probably the most inportant thing I learned was the concept that things can be fixed. Once You have figured out how & why something works, You can often figure out why it doesn't, and fix it.
- Dave Boyer - Saturday, 07/30/11 23:57:18 EDT

Oh the Clocks. . .:
Years ago there was nothing BUT mechanical clocks and the cheap alarm clocks the the bells on top were a standard in just about every home. They were cheaply made and wore out on a regular basis. . . And thus were a great source for mechanical inquiry for a young boy. I KNOW I took apart at least a half dozen.

Reduction gears, escapements and spring winding mechanisms. . Wonderful things to learn mechanics from.

The there were the music boxes with gearing and an air governor that wasted energy to create a more or less constant speed.

While they were a thing from another era I grew up under my grandmothers treadle singer sewing machine. Treadle, crank, belts and gears. . . When I was a teenager I bought one for $5 and restored it. Sewed great.

Today cheap $10 quartz electric watches are more dependable than 90% of the wind up mechanical watches ever were and not needing to be reset due to the spring winding down keep better time for years. . .

Gift cards now come with musical recordings that last as long a most very expensive mechanical music boxes did. We have one that the wafer thin battery still works after 5 years and plays a rendition of "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" with enough volume and bass that the (large 12x12") card shakes and you hear throughout the house. . . The entire "mechanism" is not bigger than an old US silver dollar. So much for the music box. . .

We cook with electric and high tech microwaves and fewer people learn to strike a match to light a gas stove. If they have a gas stove it lights electronically. My mother learned to cook on a gas stove when she was 3 and while she was not supposed to light the stove unless her mother was there she did. . to bake a birthday cake for her mother.

All this means that there are less and less mechanical devices for youth to observe, disassemble and learn from. Less "real things".

Where are the mechanics, inventors and engineers of the future going to come from? While all these things can be taught there is no substitute for childhood experience. Learning these things while young and your brain is still developing connections like it does for language is MUCH different than learning later in life.
- guru - Sunday, 07/31/11 00:51:11 EDT

Chinese tractors: Vary just as much as Japanese or American tractors do - there are good ones and not so good ones. I have a 35 hp Jinma 4WD that has been terrific so far. It is made by the JiangDong Tractor Company, the largest manufacturer of tractors in the world. They've been making tractors since the 1930s.

I only put a few hundred hours per year on it, doing mostly heavy bush hogging, grading and plowing and running an 8" PTO tree chipper clearing land. It certainly isn't an industrial-duty machine like say, a Case 580, but then it didn't cost $50K, either. More like $11K, actually, including the implements. I'm very pleased with my "cheap" Chinese tractor after a couple of years.

A neighbor of mine has a Kubota about the same size as my tractor, but it keeps breaking. The front end components aren't built as heavily as on mine for some reason, and he's a bit of a cowboy when it comes to equipment. I think he could break a Bucyrus Erie, in fact. :-) The problem for him is that parts for that Kubota cost a small fortune - he fouled up the three point hitch and the parts to fix it cost almost what a new engine would for my tractor.

With ANY tractor, regardless of country of origin, how you treat it will, to a very large degree, determine how well it holds up. There is no tractor that will continue to operate satisfactorily if not properly maintained and operated sensibly. I expect to get 4000-6000 hours from my tractor before I need to do any major work on it, based on reports from other responsible owners. OTOH, if I go by what the guys who don't seem to know or care about equipment report, I'd expect to have replaced it already. (grin)

The real shame is that if you look at the country of origin of many so-called "American" equipment name brands these days, you'll be hard-pressed to find many that are actually manufactured in the US. Like far too much of our industrial base, it has been abandoned or outsourced to foreign lands.
- Rich - Sunday, 07/31/11 01:21:12 EDT

Kubota: One of My friends got a 27 HP 4 WD new in the early '80s. He ran it hard, beat it up pretty good, then vandals put dirt in the engine. The insurance Co. paid to rebuild the engine, but it had no oil pressure. He traded it in on a Deere 950 [built by Yanmar]. Another friend bought it from the JD dealer. The end plug ad come out of the cam, causing the lack of oil pressure. We welded it in. This tractor still runs, but will blow the coolant out & overheat if worked hard. It is still really handy to borrow, with the loader & bush hog. I need to rework the bucket & repair the loader frame next time it is over here.

In My opinion, it is hard to beat a Kubota, but there are guys who can wreck anything. It is a much more handy tractor than the JD 950 due to the shuttle transmission.
- Dave Boyer - Sunday, 07/31/11 02:56:34 EDT

Shuttle trans: Yeah, I often wish my Jinma had a shuttle trans, but they don't offer it in the heavier versions, only the little 25/28 hp ones. Sure handy for loader work and mowing around obstacles! A hydrostatic drive would be convenient too, but more complex than the straight-cut transmission it has. I can deal with stirring the gears with a stick...

My neighbor can, I think, break anything. In general, Kubotas are a very well-built machine and deserving of their good reputation.
- Rich - Sunday, 07/31/11 10:15:21 EDT

The Kubotas are sure popular around here. Probably in part due to the dealer support here. The local Case International dealer has handled them for the last 20 years or so. One of the larger farms in the area has one of the 100+ HP 4wd models with a loader. Pretty nice tractor. Haven't heard much about how they hold up.
As for me, I still run my 1941 IH Farmall "H". It runs about the same speed I do (grin) I built a 3 point hitch for it back in the '80's so I could use a blade on my drive. I also use it to brush hog and pull my old dump trailer around. Compared to most of my shop equipment though, it is one of my newer pieces of equipment.
- Bernard Tappel - Sunday, 07/31/11 10:33:31 EDT

check engine light: On a trip to Az last year, the check engine light came on in my 1994 Plymouth Voyager. But only occasionally. Finally I stopped at a truck stopp and bought a roll of black electrical tape. A quick application to the panel so i couldn't see the light and PROBLEM SOLVED!
- Loren T - Sunday, 07/31/11 11:16:30 EDT

I too have a neighbor that can break anything and fast. Unfortunatly he owns a nice 52 hp Duetz tractor that built a grader box for. I use the tractor to keep our common drives in shape. I always try to beat him to the driveway repairs as he has never understood crowning a drive and he usually breaks the tractor and then I have to fix it to fix the drive!
ptree - Sunday, 07/31/11 12:59:05 EDT

Neighbors and Tractors:
When Jim and Sheri moved to the new place in the country one of the first things they bought was a fancy new Troy built riding lawn mower / mini tractor. They made the mistake of loaning it a neighbor with a rough hill side to mow. . .

The first time he returned it with a flat tire. He had run over a piece of wood with nails sticking out half buried in his yard. . . He thought a flat tire on our mower was our responsibility. . .

The second time he returned it with the brakes broken. It was a fairly simple repair but demonstrated grossly cheap design of the mower. Any high brush, weeds or a stick could disconnect the brake linkage. . .

The third time he returned it with another flat tire with the same hole pattern as the first. I told him that if he could not find the hazard he could not borrow the mower again and that he should pay to have the tire repaired. . . He never borrowed the mower again and left us with the flat tire. . .

Since we still had no grass growing in the rock scrabble soil the mower sat for two seasons. When we went to use it something had failed in the engine and it looked like a destroyer laying smoke. . . We ended up selling the mower at a great loss it having never cut a blade of grass on our lot. . .

The general rule of loaning tools, books, videos or machinery applies. Don't do it!
- guru - Sunday, 07/31/11 14:03:22 EDT

Morality of borrowing: This particular neighbor takes great pride in being "a good christian", was once a preacher and often has a bible quote on his tongue. . . But he had no inkling of the immorality of borrowing something and bringing it back broken or damaged. Its stealing (one of the 10 commandments). .
- guru - Sunday, 07/31/11 14:10:04 EDT

Tool Borrowing: I was brought up to believe that if you borrow a tool you are expected to return it in as good as, or better, condition than you received it. If I borrow a tool and it breaks or dies while I'm using it, I simply replace it for the owner - immediately. I expect the same on the rare occasion that I lend out a tool. Currently, there are three people in the world to whom I will lend one of my tools. Every one of them feels the same way I do about borrower's responsibility. Other people don't and that's why I refuse to lend them my tools. My wife, bless her, won't lend any of my tools to even the three guys on the "A" list without clearing it with me. Of course she doesn't hesitate to borrow them for herself (and forget to return them to the shop). That's why she's not on the A list. (GRIN)

I have a very old DR brush mower that I never use but my landlady likes to have her handyman use for mowing. I "rent" it to her for ten bucks a day so there are no hard feelings when it comes back damaged or not working (which is frequent, since it is so old and worn) - I'd have to do the repairs either way, but this way the responsibility is clearly mine and a "cost of doing business," and she doesn't have to feel guilty about it. If I just lent it to her it would surely cause a problem between us and I definitely don't need that. I would simply gift her the thing but then I'd still have to repair it all the time and would quickly tire of that. Sometimes we have to go to some strange lengths to facilitate harmonious relationships.

One of the biggest reasons I own so many different tools is that I hate borrowing.
- Rich - Sunday, 07/31/11 15:48:12 EDT

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